‘Band-Aid’ fundraiser for music program
A high school drum line will get a hand from some veteran musicians when Charleston indie band Qiet and blues journeyman Greg O’Brien and the Spoodoo Cadillacs take the stage at Parkersburg’s historic Smoot Theatre in September.
The show, “Williamstown Band-Aid,” is a fundraiser toward the purchase of new drums for the music program at Williamstown High School.
“The drums are older than the kids,” said Perry Knopp, father of a clarinet player in the band and organizer of the show. “They’re getting kind of beat up.”
It’s Knopp’s first time putting together a concert, but he said it’s something he’s always wanted to try.
“I picked the Smoot because it’s one of the best venues around,” Knopp said of the 91-year-old downtown Parkersburg fixture.
And for the performers, he found two groups who care about the cause.
Qiet bass player James Maddox said the group, known for their genre-spanning songbook and dynamic performances, is active in “getting people involved in making and enjoying music.
“We’ve even given workshops in schools in West Virginia to further music education in our state,” he said. “To be offered to play this kind of show is definitely something we all responded to.”
Knopp said Qiet is hard to describe and, as such, needs to be experienced.
“They don’t fit any genre of music. They play things from the big band era all the way up to punk rock, soft rock,” he said.
Qiet is made up of Maddox; Christopher Vincent, lead vocal, guitar; Max Venoy, trumpet; Steve Barker, drums; Jared Layman, trombone, keys, backup vocals; and Tracy Lipscomb, violin, backup vocals.
Greg O’Brien lives near Shade in Meigs County, Ohio, but has toured and performed around the country with acts like Tom “Tomcat” Courtney, Coco Taylor and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Living in Hollywood in the 1980s, he ran sound and performed with a variety of major blues acts.
“In the mix, I ended up doing shows for people like B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Robben Ford, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin (and) James Cotton,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien specializes in “good-time music,” and members of the Spoodoo Cadillacs have impressive resumes of their own.
Drummer Steve “The Gate” Gaither started his career with Charlie Pride and has also played with James Brown, Della Reese, Johnny Rawls and more. Mike “Big Mike” Schallus has played around the U.S. and England and in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Jerome Mills is a member of the house band at many prominent Indianapolis blues venues, and his Jerome Mills Blues Band has opened for King and Taylor. Jeff Bradberry was bass player for Jose Feliciano, Johnny Winter and Delbert McClinton.
O’Brien is also an educator, having designed and built multiple recording studios and college music programs. He is currently the director of entertainment and music technology at New Mexico Junior College. He said playing the Band-Aid concert is his way of giving back.
“If they’re (students) not given the chance to pursue what they love or even know if they like it … there’s going to be a void,” O’Brien said. “That’s the future of music here in America, and maybe worldwide.”
Tickets to the Sept. 23 show are $25 for adults and $15 for students and can be purchased online at www.smoottheatre.com. There’s also a “donate” button for those who want to support the effort but can’t make it to the show.